In the context of climate change, we might be familiar with the following term: carbon neutral – a condition where the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that are released are equal to the emissions that are removed from the environment – then in the context of waste management, there is also a similar term, which is plastic neutral. The underlying concept is the same: the amount of plastic waste that is produced is balanced with the amount of plastics that were collected from the environment.
Moreover, the concept of plastic neutral has been implemented by a plant-based food industry based in England called Better Nature, with a help from their partners, rePurpose and Waste4Change.
How Better Nature Became Plastic Neutral
As of June 2020, the tempeh products from Better Nature have been certified as Plastic Neutral, meaning that Better Nature does not add more waste to the environment since the amount of plastic waste that they generate are offset by collecting and recycling plastic waste from the environment through the waste credit mechanism.
Even though the company is based in England, the team behind Better Nature are aware that tempeh is a food whose origin is from Indonesia. Hence, Better Nature wanted to give back to Indonesia and decided to implement the Plastic Neutral program in Indonesia with the help from Waste4Change as both the waste consultant and partner for executing the program.
So how does it work? First of all, Better Nature measures the amount of waste that they generate in order to decide how much waste they need to remove from the environment in order to offset their plastic emission. From the measurement, Better Nature donates a percentage of every product purchase to fund the collection of 1.300 kilograms of low-value plastic waste from the oceans and landfills every year.
The second step is that the low-value plastics that are collected are then processed and reused by Waste4Change, in which they also involve and empower local waste pickers.
Last but not least, Better Nature will continue to work with their partner, rePurpose Global, to reduce the future use of virgin plastics in their products and build a more circular and sustainable business model for their company.
Throughout their partnership with Waste4Change and their waste credit program, Better Nature have collected as many as 1.918 kilograms of plastic waste from the oceans and landfills. In addition, this Plastic Neutral program also generates a social impact in a way that helps 50 waste workers and their family to receive additional income through the waste credit program. Last but not least, the Plastic Neutral program also helps to avoid around 5 tons of carbon dioxide emission from being released into the air.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that Better Nature has also “leveled up” from being Plastic Neutral to becoming Plastic Negative, a condition in which the amount of plastic emissions that are released into the environment are far below the amount of plastics that were collected and managed from the environment.
Waste Credit from Waste4Change
The waste credit service from Waste4Change facilitates companies to help fund waste collection and recycling projects for a more circular economy as well as to help companies offset their waste and plastic emission that will otherwise pollute the environment.
Waste credit itself can be categorized into two types, which are Material Recovery and Water Cleanup.
For Material Recovery, companies can aim for a specific type of waste material that is going to be collected and managed by Waste4Change. One example of a material that will be strategic to be collected and recycled is the Multilayer Plastic (MLP) Packaging.
According to Plastic Waste Management (2016), multilayer plastic packaging can be defined as “any material used for packaging and having at least one layer of plastic as the main ingredient in combination with one or more layers of materials such as paper, paper board, polymeric, aluminium foils, either in the form of laminate or co-extruded structure.”
Why Multilayer Plastic? MLP became a favored material in the food industry as it helps protect sensitive food products and hence making it last longer. Even so, multilayer plastic is one of the materials that is difficult to be recycled, which is why most of it ends up in landfills (or worse, the environment). It is estimated that around 1,4 million tons of multilayer plastic waste end up in the environment in 2019. Moreover, according to data from Bappenas (2012), only 12% of the MLPs packaging waste in Indonesia has been recycled.
The second type of the waste credit service provided by Waste4Change is through Water Cleanup, which is a project to collect waste from rivers, coasts, or other water bodies to be managed and recycled.
The activity of collecting waste from water bodies will be facilitated with a boat (SeeHamster) that specializes in collecting waste and has operated in a river in Bekasi. Of course the operation will be performed according to the standard procedure and by using adequate equipment.
Waste4Change’s Waste Credit Portfolio
Waste4Change has been recognized as an impact partner of rePurpose that is based in Indonesia and is certified as a Verified Plastic Credit Provider from rePurpose Global according to the international standard procedure.
Since August 2020, Waste4Change have also collected as many as 40 tons of MLPs plastic waste, which will otherwise end up polluting the environment. In addition, Waste4Change also cooperates with credible and trusted recycling partners in order to provide recycling certificates. Our recycling partners are namely Semen Tiga Roda and Solusi Bangun Indonesia.
Find out more about the success story of our partner, Better Nature, in implementing the waste credit program and is certified to be Plastic Neutral through the webinar “Plastic Neutral for Sustainable Food Industry”.
Read Indonesian version article here.